Heard Around the World: Mentoring Peace

peace-sign-39484_640The world witnessed its share of sadness in 2014. The cycle of senseless violence made us question our selves and our place in the world. Now, the start of a new year brings the promise of a new leaf. But the world isn’t cooperating. These past weeks have seen a violent attack in France, continued turmoil in the Middle East, and civil war in Eastern Europe. Misunderstanding blinds us to the right course of action, and stops us from peacefully seeking the route to understanding.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we have been searching for a way to make a positive impact, however modest. So in 2015, we’re going to Mentor Peace.

We mentor peace by opening our minds to new concepts. We mentor peace by fighting ignorance with education. Above all, we mentor peace by treating every person with care and respect we would show to a member of our families. Over the past few weeks, I interviewed a number of magnificent young people, from all corners of the globe, asking a simple question: “How will you mentor peace in 2015? What do you hope for in your country regarding peace?”

Fahad, Age 23, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
“I want to mentor peace by showing that world that regardless of what they see on the media, there are good people in all corners of the country.”

Kylie, Age 22, Ferguson, Missouri
“I will mentor peace by showing people that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character. I will do this by showing the world how successful people of color can be, regardless of stereotype.”

Lucy, Age 19, Paris, France
“I want to mentor peace by showing the world that together, non violent acts of protest can speak to millions in silence.”

Fatima, Age 25, Islamabad, Pakistan
“I want to show the world that violence is never right. I want to show the world that people who are violent will not win. The only way to fight violence is with peace. The only way to remember the lives of the innocent is with positivity. I want the world to know that the lives of the innocent children killed in my country will always be remembered. I will be peaceful for them.”

Mira, Age 22, Beirut, Lebanon
“My wish for peace in 2015 is for my country to see the beauty in all people. God has given us the ability to live in a beautiful country. We must also show that beauty through our actions.”

Mohammad, Age 29, United Arab Emirates
“I want to mentor peace by telling people to love all religions and respect everyone’s belief. We can do this by educating and really listening to each others point of view respectfully. Didn’t our prophets do the same?”

Tyrese, Age 8, Boston, Massachusetts
“I want to mentor peace by showing my friends books about all different cultures. This way, we can all be friends and get along.”

Martin, Age 26, Dublin, Ireland
“I want peace to be mentored through every step I take. I want peace to be mentored through the kind words I speak to people. I want peace to be mentored through politicians, because people pay attention when people in power practice peace.”

Miranda, London, UK
“I love people of all race religions and backgrounds. I want to take my knowledge and spread it like wildfire —that underneath our skin we are all the same!”

Carlo, Madrid, Spain
“I want the people of my country to have empathy on those who are poor, and mentor them into better health. I want to mentor and inspire people to help the less fortunate.”

Bahir, Damascus, Syria
“I want to mentor the world. I want to tell people; My country is beautiful. Even under violence, we still dance and love. If we can mentor dancing and love through hard times, we can help anyone get through a hard time.”

Let us mentor the world with powerful actions, showing that peace is greater than hatred and violence. Let us mentor society by demonstrating that peace can be found everywhere on earth. Let us mentor each other on the path to peace.

 

About the Author

OMSF team member Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford and hopes to pursue a career in writing.

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Mentoring: A Way to Give and Receive

I get so excited when I discover a unique mentoring story, whether it’s in the form of a book, song, show or film. Today OMSF is thrilled to feature Kay Goldstein, author of Star Child. It’s a fabulous adult/YA book that takes us on a journey of Terra and Marius—two star children trying to fit in. It’s a story is about confidence and loneliness, fears and obsessions.

January is National Mentoring Month so we are particularly glad to have this tale, which uses mentoring to counter the alienation and negative feelings that diminish the possibility of hope. We all need more hope, and we all need a mentor. I’d like to thank Kay for taking the time to write this piece for the OMSF blog, and I hope you’ll buy a copy of her book!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director

As we begin the New Year and many of us think about making resolutions, I am reminded that all of us can use a little help achieving our goals. And one thing I learned from writing Star Child is that there is only one resolution that we really need: to be true to our selves. For if we know who we are and can nurture the very best and most unique parts of ourselves, then we will find a great satisfaction in our lives, our relationships, and our work. Any resolution that is not based in this truth is bound to fail, especially if it is designed just to please others.

The story of the star children offers inspiration as well as examples of how to get through difficult times, and how to realize one’s unique self. Both children recognized that they were different from the others. Both felt the pain of their “differentness,” even though they had caring adults and family around them. In fact, they were often pressured and even bullied to conform to the “norm.”

But each found a mentor who provided some special guidance. For Terra, it was the Ancient Mother; for Marius, it was the Baker: both appeared just when the characters most needed guidance. While different in their approaches and support, each provided similar assistance:

  • They were non-judging—that is, they were accepting of the young man and woman. The goal was not to change them into something more socially acceptable, but to help them develop their unique abilities so that they could share them with others.
  • They shared something of their own stories and experience, not all of which they were proud. In other words, they shared their common humanity.
  • Each encouraged Terra and Marius to trust themselves and to seek what they most desired.
  • Each had skills that they shared with Terra and Marius.
  • And finally, both the Ancient Mother and The Baker had great wisdom that allowed them to intervene in the lives of their community and those they mentored at critical times. Neither expected Marius or Terra to follow exactly in their footsteps but allowed them to find their own way with their guidance and support.
Kay Goldstein

Kay Goldstein

As the author of this story, I felt those characters help me understand how to write a book that was true to my own voice and self. When faced with the task of editing the final version of the story, I often imagined what the Ancient Mother or the Baker or even Terra might want to do or say. They ended up being my mentors too. It was only when the book was published that I realized that I was learning, at a much older age, many of the same lessons that Terra and Marius had learned.

January is National Mentoring Month. If you seek support, guidance, and good examples—no matter what your age—then seek out a mentor! You’d be surprised: they sometimes appear only once you have decided you need one. And consider offering your own gifts and skills to those around you. Everyone will benefit!

About the Author

Kay Goldstein is the author of Star Child (Vineyard Stories), a spiritual fairy tale for adults and young adults and recipient of a 2013 Nautilus Book Award, as well as A Book Of Feasts, Stories and Recipes from American Celebrations, a James Beard Award nominee. Kay was formerly an editor for Zagat Restaurant Guides and founder of award-winning Proof of the Pudding, Atlanta’s first gourmet takeout store/restaurant and catering business offering innovative American and fusion foods. She is married to Buck Goldstein and has two grown children, dividing her time between Chapel Hill, NC, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

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Over My Shoulder: 2014 Highlights

Mitchell-Gold-Recap

Happy Mentoring Month! The beginning of each new year not only gives us a chance to set goals for the future, it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the past. We’re delighted to report that 2014 was a banner year here at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Here are just a few highlights, from awards and events to media sponsorships and emotional mentorship stories.

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A New Year’s Mentoring Resolution

New-Year_Resolutions_list

Every year, millions of people around the globe make New Year’s resolutions to better their lives.

Some of the most common goals are to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, learn a second language, and save money. These are all perfectly worthwhile ambitions. But there’s another resolution that should be added to the top of your list: to become a better mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month in the United States, and that’s a perfect way to kick off each new year. It’s a reminder that everyone needs the support of their friends and loved ones to succeed, and that each of us can become a better mentor to the people in our lives.

Becoming a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean working with a charity (although there are many fantastic volunteer mentorship opportunities). It doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Coworkers, family members, and friends can all use the support of a mentor from time to time. Opportunities arise daily—as long as we’re looking for them—to lend support and guidance, to bolster the best parts of each other.

This year, commit yourself to a new New Year’s resolution. And stay on track by staying in touch:

· Check out the OMSF archive and subscribe to the blog

· Become a fan of OMSF on Facebook

· Contact us about sharing your own mentorship story!

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Discovering that I Benefitted from a Mentor

Life was complicated for me in junior high. Sharing the intimate details of your life was not an option during the 1970s. You hid everything back then, pretended that nothing hurt. You sucked it up and moved on. But I remember my music class, and our teacher Pip Moss, vividly. Under Pip’s direction, we dissected our favorite songs and discussed their meaning. James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”is the one I recall the best. That song was the first instance I can remember of anyone talking openly about private emotional pain.

On my favorite radio station back then, the songs told stories about every emotion that life could elicit. I knew just about every word of every song. Music has the unique ability to arouse introspection, and it offered me some stability in those turbulent years. If that’s not a kind of mentorship, I don’t know what is.

I’m very excited to feature my old classmate, Peter Downing. With this post, Peter reminds me how important our music teacher Pip Moss was, and how grateful I still am for his guidance and education.

— Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director

 

I clicked on two video links: “Musician arrested for singing in subway” and “BBC Music – God Only Knows.” The second video is a montage of pop artists singing The Beach Boys’ masterpiece,“God only Knows.” An eighty-piece orchestra backs twenty-seven hugely famous and talented singers, who take turns singing one line of Brian Wilson and Tony Asher’s classic love song each. Brian himself is in the video. By the time it got around to Dave Grohl, however, the meaning of the song had changed.

I was primed by the video of that brave New York City subway musician being wrongfully arrested for plying his trade. I’ve been a busker, you see—not out of fiscal necessity but rather out of spiritual need. Holding court in The Pit, in Harvard Square, with my old band, The Peasants, is a cherished memory. For me, it was the only outlet that beat the skull-busting rush of shooting cocaine.

Watching the young man in the first video being taken away in handcuffs—for what? For being the most alive one can be? It affected me. It hurt my soul.

I no longer imagined the musicians singing “God only knows” to a loved one; instead, the song become a paean to music itself. I didn’t see Elton John the mega star. I saw the awkward little boy, the target of ridicule, then a tortured artist, finding solace in creativity, now paying tribute to the thing that saved him.

Not every musician is “tortured,” obviously. But there is a certain madness required in mastering an instrument. It takes hundreds of hours alone in room, repeating the same work over and over with single-minded focus. God only knows what Brian Wilson and this distinguished band of merry misfits would be without music as an outlet.

Without it, I know, I’d be incarcerated or interred.

My story is a familiar one: alcoholism, broken home, latchkey kid. I was a good reader, but most of the other subjects confounded me. I couldn’t seem to pay enough attention.

Enter a young, long-haired, energetic, and very knowledgeable music teacher named Pip Moss. He had soft shoes, John Lennon glasses, and a corduroy blazer. Despite the hip style, Pip was the son of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first violinist and Concert Master. His intention, according to my classmate Warren, was to turn kids on to classical pieces in his first year teaching the class “Music Listening.” But the kids rebelled.“We want rock,” they demanded. And Pip—maybe realizing the futility of his campaign—turned on a dime. He got a Fender Stratocaster and some Hendrix records, and by the time my class showed up the following year he had whole new curriculum.

He led off with Cream. My older sister liked the band so I already knew them. I was able to answer some questions intelligently. Pip took notice. During a quiz he played an obscure track. It was our job to identify the musician.

I knew instantly, raised my hand, and said, “It’s Cream.”

Pip smiled broadly and said, “Correct! How did you know?”

“Clapton’s voice.”I said.”

“Mmm. Good ear,” he said, “except it’s actually Jack Bruce who’s singing.”

It was an imperfect victory (something I’d have to get used to) but a victory nonetheless. I was suddenly engaged, scored well on quizzes, and in no time I was even teaching my classmates guitar. It was a sea-change.

Pip’s support may have been a small gesture, but it grew exponentially, the way a tiny adjustment at the start of a tee shot becomes a quantum leap three hundred yards down the fairway. A metric expansion of space began that day, and forty years later his words are still helping me as I strive to be more patient, kind, and generous. Where would I be without him as a mentor? God only knows.

About the Author

Peter Downing graduated from Tufts University. He is a musician, father, and Managing Partner of Cerberus Life Management, an addiction recovery services firm.

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